Mandi Bierly
November 09, 2011 AT 09:19 PM EST

They call tonight’s CMA Awards (ABC, 8 p.m. ET) “Country music’s biggest night,” and with more than 20 performers — including Taylor Swift, Blake Shelton, Miranda Lambert, Zac Brown Band, Jason Aldean, Keith Urban, Sugarland, Kenny Chesney and Grace Potter, plus returning cohosts Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood — that seems like a fair assesment.

American Idol winner Scotty McCreery, who last month topped the Billboard 200 chart with his debut release Clear As Day, knows all eyes will be on him when he takes the stage for the album cut that the show’s producers asked him to perform: his cover of “Walk In the Country,” a tune Urban sang when he was in the country trio The Ranch in 1997. “I’ll be in a room with Nashville’s biggest stars, and in a way I’ll be singing to prove myself and to say, ‘This is me,'” McCreery tells EW. “I’m still the newbie in Nashville. I’m that country-music fan that gets all giddy when I’m around those people.”

Will Urban, who’s been known to slap on his six-string and play backup for other performers, join him? We’ll have to wait to see. Regardless, the two already have an interesting awards show history. “The first time I met Keith Urban was in the bathroom at the CMT Awards,” McCreery says. “I wish maybe we could take that back. You don’t talk too much in the bathroom. So it was just kind of a ‘Hey.’ ‘Hey.’ It was funny, though.” 

After tonight, McCreery, who sang the National Anthem at Game 1 of the World Series, won’t slow down. Tomorrow, he films a performance for ABC’s CMA Country Christmas special airing in December. Later this month, he’ll perform on NBC’s broadcast of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

In January, he hits the road opening for legendary prankster Brad Paisley along with The Band Perry. “I got to chance to participate in one of his practical jokes when he came to Raleigh for the last stop of the H2O Tour [in September]. Me and Brad had these remote control trucks that squirted water out. We got Blake Shelton pretty good with that,” McCreery says. “I think I’m gonna have to sleep with one eye open. You never know what he’s gonna pull. We’ll see.”

Read more:

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CMA Award nominees: Jason Aldean, Blake Shelton join Entertainer of the Year vets

Reese Witherspoon, Ginnifer Goodwin, Eric Stonestreet to present at 2011 CMA Awards

Faith Hill to stage comeback, debut new single at CMA Awards

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